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Malaysia’s First Female Olympic Shooter Is 8-Months Pregnant and Gunning For Gold

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

Nur Suryani Mohamed Taibi is no stranger to being under pressure. As a first-time Olympian, the first woman to represent Malaysia in shooting, and 47th in the world in the 10-meter air rifle event, the 29-year-old Malaysian woman is used to shooting under a considerable amount of strain. After all, though the sport certainly looks easy, marksmanship depends on a delicate balance of breathing, timing, centering oneself, and shutting out the rest of the world in order to get that perfect shot. Even the smallest distraction can put a bullet off by scant millimeters, enough to change the entire competition. However, the prospect of competing in front of the entire world isn’t what’s most unnerving about the London Olympics — it’s that, at 8-months pregnant, she’ll have to step up to her rifle and will her baby not to kick while she’s making her decisive shot.

In January, Nur Suryani received the most extraordinary news of her life. Not only had she qualified for her first Olympic games, she also discovered she was pregnant. Despite the joyous news, her growing belly did create a few barriers for the world-class marksmen — although shooting isn’t the most strenuous sport, pregnancy does render the human body more vulnerable than usual. Though Malaysian sporting authorities were reluctant to let her compete, citing her her health and ability to perform at her best, Nur Suryani sought out her doctor’s clearance to travel anyway. “I said, ‘I got the qualification, so it’s mine,”’ she said.

Nur Suryani, who began shooting when she was 14, has a strategy she’ll try to adhere to during the games this summer: “My aim is to do everything perfect and then the result will come after. If you aim for a gold medal, you put yourself under pressure,” she said. Nur Suryani, who is already not that far from perfect, scoring 392 out of a possible 400 at a World Cup event in London in April, and 396 in Munich in May, is only slightly worried that her baby will kick just as she’s pulling the trigger. But seems to have taken that into account too: “I will talk to her, say, ‘Mum is going to shoot just for a while. Can you just be calm?”’.

In fact, her pregnancy might even improve her marksmanship — because her weight has increased, her gravity and stability has increased, qualities vital to performing well at the range.

It appears that any resistance Nur Suryani encountered at the beginning of her pregnant Olympic journey has faded away. Prime Minister Najib Razak has ensured that her husband will be flown out to London, and should she need any medical attention, they’ll make sure she’s taken care of. And though she’s not the only Olympian to ever compete while pregnant — curler Kristie Moore competed while pregnant in 2010, and Swedish figure skater Magda Julin won a gold medal in 1920 while pregnant — she’ll still have to prepare herself for immense public attention. After all, at 8-months pregnant, her stomach is more popular than she is, as she puts it.

We wish her the best of luck during the 2012 London Olympics and sincerely hope that the only kick she feels up at the range is from her force of her medal-winning shot.

(via Jezebel and The New York Times.)

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